Seed & Water

Holly & Meagan

Balance

We love living in Denver. Like, love. The people we’ve met, the mountains we’ve explored, the food we’ve eaten — this state has been so kind to us so far.

Residency has been a bit of a doozy, and most weeks Tim spends more hours at the hospital than at home. So I’m learning how to balance work + being a mom + taking care of home-responsibilities without Tim being around a ton. It’s just an adjustment phase. There is so much to be thankful for…for healthy bodies, for family that lives close (oaks has the greatest aunts and uncles!), for being able to live in such a beautiful place, and for jobs that we love. Grace upon grace.

The most challenging adjustment the past few months has been motherhood. Oaks has come out of that sleepy-cuddly infant stage and is turning into an individual. Watching a child grow is one of the greatest joys in life…but, is this a safe place to say that it also wears me out more than anything else in the world? I’ve always considered myself a strong person — defiant, confident and brave. But having a child who carries some of those same character traits…geez. I’m undone. It’s a daily exercise in humility and faith.

A couple days ago I was sitting on an airplane with Oaks — well, actually standing in the back bouncing him and praying that he would please please please fall asleep (which he never did) — and scanning the crowd of people on the plane. Some were reading People or US Weekly, some snacking on peanuts and ginger ale, and some sleeping peacefully, nuzzled against the window or their neighbor. Normal, wonderfully mundane airplane things. And there I was, sleep-deprived with a loose front tooth (another story for another day), consoling a tired frustrated baby…waffling between extreme joy and jealousy. So happy that my sweet, independent Oaks was actually snuggling against my shoulder, a rarity…but also slightly resentful that I wasn’t able to tend to my own needs — because I need to read People, right?

So yeah. Yin-yang.

(pics are from a hike we took a couple weeks ago to St. Mary’s Glacier with my brother and sister-in-law. pardon the poor image quality — serious reminder that I need to pull out my real camera more often!)

a lot of ands

The last few weeks, my mind has been spinning — I mean, the to-do list….it just won’t die down. It’s definitely somewhat self imposed which I think is just the nature of being a creative person.

But then it also probably has something to do with the fact that I run my own business and mostly have no idea what i’m doing when it comes to all things business-y (taxes what??). And spend way too much of my life trying to catch up on my email inbox and then also perpetually take on too many projects because I love what I do so much that I can’t ever say no to anyone.

And that I’m a new mom…and a newlywed(ish)…

AND that we’re moving to denver in one month!  I guess I haven’t officially announced that here. There are literally fifty million things to do before we leave.

And Tim is about to start residency, which kind of terrifies me. I’m excited for sure, but painfully aware of the fact that he’ll be spending more time in the hospital than he will at home…gulp. I know that Oaks and I will have to make friends in a new city (mostly) without Tim (andddd, can someone tell me how you do that with a baby??), which is also scary.

The strange thing about all this is that I am surprisingly not anxious about it all. It’s weird, and new for me.

I think its because, it the midst of the craziness, my heart is just really full. Full of love for tim and for oaks and for springtime that reminds me of grace and new life…for our families and for my job…for our life here in florida and for the adventure that lies ahead in denver…and so much more.

So many loves, so little time and space. It’s getting cramped up in here!

For Telling’s Sake pt. IV :: A Hundred Intangibles by Shanna Mallon

My friend Shanna is of the most refreshing type: the kind where you don’t even have to think about what to say and the kind that makes you feel totally inspired by simply being yourself. A real treasure, I love sharing a city with Shanna for all the book-swapping, lunch dates and conversations about the future, creativity and food. We share a handful of completely unrelated friends in common, and I have our blogs to thank for helping us find each other. (I also have her blog to thank for many-a-delicious real food recipes!)

For Telling’s Sake, is a net to catch the stories of people who inspire us and a place to hang the findings of how sharing life through blogs is a rich and meaningful experience—for sharers and readers.

As someone who’s been blogging at one space since 2008 and at a variety of other, now-retired spaces since four years before then, I’m going to be honest with you: Blogging isn’t always pretty. Every six months or so, I don’t want to do it anymore. I go through a period where I question the value, I compare myself to others, I think about income and stats and notoriety and I feel like I have nothing left to say. In fact, when my thoughtful blogging-turned-real-life friend Holly first told me about this new series here, sitting across from me in her charming Nashville living room while we ate her homemade blueberry scones on yellow-and-white plates and drank her tea, while I told her I loved the idea (almost as much as I’ve loved reading the beautiful entries it’s since produced!), I also told her I was pretty sure I couldn’t contribute. You want me to talk about what blogging’s meant to me, I told her, furrowing my brow, and the problem is, sometimes I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know: I started my food blog when I was 26. I wanted to write about my life, I wanted to remember my grandma and, mostly, I wanted to feel like something I was writing, unlike the real estate descriptions I wrote every day between nine and five, mattered to me. Although I come from a long line of cooking women, I still didn’t know much about food besides that I liked eating it, so I decided, on nights and weekends, to begin trying things out. Along the way, as I shared about the triumph of a golden peach cobbler and the defeat of a cake’s frosting going gray, I also wrote about my workdays and my life lessons and the way lilac bushes will always smell like my grandma’s house on Mother’s Day.

I met my first blog friend in person at a suburban strip-mall Thai restaurant in Naperville, Illinois. Jacqui and I talked for hours about our families and our work and hilarious facts like how she didn’t keep sugar on hand. Since then we’ve seen each other, and many other friends online, through engagements, weddings, new jobs, new moves, new experiences—mostly through the medium of computer screens. When I held a blog party on my site’s first anniversary, she was there, along with around four dozen other people, gathered together in a covered picnic area to eat barbecue chicken and salad with poppyseed dressing and trays and trays of cookies I’d baked. In the following years, when I traveled to new towns or states, I shared meals with dozens of friends who have turned out to share my passions or worldviews, each of whom I’d never have known without a blog. And in early 2010, I drove to Nashville with my coworker and met up with a blog connection who’d emailed me months earlier about a real-foods-focused lifestyle; that man’s since become my best friend and husband, as well as the person who helps me run the site today.

Blogging’s helped me quit my job and become a full-time freelance copywriter, buoyed in part by the connections and votes of confidence I found online. Blogging’s been a space to practice writing and a place to work out ideas or problems I don’t know how to face. Like Kathryn wrote in the last post in this series, blogging’s been a hundred “me too” responses, lights in dark times, friendship in loneliness. For many years, for me, blogging’s also been a safe place—somewhere I can be myself and know someone, out there, will think that’s okay.

It’s true that every six months or so, I don’t want to blog anymore. I think about the facts that blogging won’t pay our bills, blogging takes time and blogging is still so often misunderstood. I look at the competitive nature of food blogging and wonder if I should push for higher traffic or work to be noticed or simply throw in the towel.

But every six months or so, I don’t stop. And here’s, I think, why: Blogging has been God’s tool for giving me some of the most valuable blessings in my life. Through it, He has shone beautiful voices and beautiful creativity into my days. He’s brought me kindred spirits who rejoice and weep with me, wise voices who teach me, friendly voices who see me in my introverted, deep-thinking personality and don’t shy away. And over time, He’s used those relationships, along with the creative practice invested in blogging, to open my eyes to more of who He is and who He’s made be to be.

True, blogging rarely results in immediate, tangible benefits, the kind you can add to your pocketbook and count—but, in fact, what it gives is better still. Pour your heart out online, be honest and real and keep doing it, and there are a hundred intangibles, waiting to fall in your hands.

Read more from Shanna on her blog, Food Loves Writing. Plus, check out her book and her Etsy shop!

For Telling’s Sake pt. III :: Me Too by Kathryn White

Today’s guest poster is one of my favorite voices, a person who continually inspires me to write, and a person I am happy to call friend. Having only met her in the flesh one solitary time, she has taught me so many important things—like how Thursday (Magic Thursday) is the best day of the week and how to tactfully share even the darkest parts of life with bravery, honesty, and hope. What treasures.

For Telling’s Sake, is a net to catch the stories of people who inspire us and a place to hang the findings of how sharing life through blogs is a rich and meaningful experiencefor sharers and readers.

You might say I am queen of the overshare.

Quick to trust and quicker still to spot a kindred spirit, I often find myself spilling my soul stories to near-strangers, a decision based solely on a connection I just sense. I do this with real life friends, and I also do it on the Internet. In fact, I’ve done this very thing since I was 15, typing my thoughts into my first Xanga account. My view and understanding of blogging has shifted since 2005, but the reason for it remains the same: the joy of the me too!

We have friendships for lots of reasons, but maybe the most important one is to feel understood. It is a relief to let down your walls and find someone just like you on the other side. What’s beautiful about blogging is that somehow sharing the details of your life, both large and small, with the world can do this very thing. The truth is, we blog because we want to share; we write publicly because we want an audience. Otherwise, we’d just journal. However, eight years in, I am still amazed by the power of the response, the strength of the connection.

It feels a little funny to write about what blogging means to me when my own blog has been silent for weeks now. This last year has been the quietest year in my blog life. My real life has been overwhelming in a full heart, full life kind of way, and for the first time in a long while, I haven’t quite found the words for it yet. But this silent season has also been a harvest season. In the last six months, I’ve managed to meet three internet friends from three different cities, Holly being one. And sitting across from Holly and Chase in my own city, I couldn’t help but feel that this Sunday lunch was the bloom of all those me too friendship seeds we’ve planted over the last two years.

Blogs bring us together, from hundreds of miles away to the friend down the street. In sharing our stories, we take the first step. What comes next will surprise you.

It always does me.

Hear more from Kathryn on her blog, and just try to not be inspired by the way she strings words together.

For Telling’s Sake pt. II :: A Royal Service by Rylee Hitchner

Meagan and I met Rylee nearly two years ago when I was frantically looking for a wedding photographer. What we found was so much more—a true, kind and kindred friend. Such a joyful part of both of our weddings, now we can’t wait to see her marry her high-school sweetheart this Saturday!

For Telling’s Sake, is a net to catch the stories of people who inspire us and a place to hang the findings of how sharing life through blogs is a rich and meaningful experiencefor sharers and readers.

I started my very first blog when I was 15, and everyday I wrote the things my heart was drawn to. I shared my life, my crafts, and would interview other small artists to encourage them to share their stories, too. That blog is long gone now, but I feel that this was a wonderful beginning to my art today.

Today my blog is simply photographs… Sharing other people’s stories through imagery. And even though there are no words shared between my ‘readers’ and I, somehow it has been a door to many wonderful friendships and collaborations that have birthed more sharing and more giving.

I look at my blog as a way to tell the world what I believe in and what I want to do in this life… a place to connect with like-minded people, not to bring me more business, not to get more of my work published, not to connect with more brides (though it does do those things too, and I am grateful). More, it’s an unspoken love letter. An unspoken invitation. A “This is me. This is how I see. How do you see?”

When someone sees the same way I do—when they connect with my work—it sparks conversation. This is when a like-minded creative writes me to collaborate, to bring more beauty into the world. This is when I get invitations to share more stories.

I feel like the most blessed person in the world because I get to be involved in a Royal Service, to photograph love and light and beauty, and get paid for it too (but hey, that is just the icing on the cake).

The Creator of this universe so clearly holds beauty as one of the most important parts of life. He could have just created the sun for light and warmth and stopped at that, but rather he makes the most amazing sunsets for us everyday. This is true for everything; the trees, the birds, the wind, the water. It’s all a beautiful song and a beautiful masterpiece. He is an artist, and he has passed the torch to us, trusting us with this beauty to paint a small part of his painting. That which we create—these photographs we take, these recipes we make up and serve, these weddings we design for others to enjoy, these flowers we pick up and put in a vase, these blog posts of beautiful words, these seemingly really tiny things that sometimes feel like they’re not really much help to the world—they are. They are some of the most important things to make this world turn round.

When I was 15 I had no idea anyone out there shared the belief that beauty was important. All my life, school taught me math and science and being successful were important, but thankfully my parents encouraged me to pursue something else that was also important. They somehow saw that this space on the internet would bring something more.

This weekend I’m getting married, and it feels like a celebration in beauty and Creation. So many incredible creatives and friends are surrounding my fiance and I to bring their gifts. They are people I have been blessed to connect with online thanks to our shared interest in beauty.

In the in-betweens, we hang lights, plant flowers, put on dresses, play music, say beautiful words… all not in vain. This is so much bigger than just a wedding for a girl and a boy.
Creating and celebrating beauty is a Royal Service, friends. Connecting with like-minded creatives and beautiful minds is no small thing.

Take this with you: write, share images, sing songs, tell the world your heart in anyway you know how. Connect with others, and create beauty. Thank you, Internet, for inviting this.

See more from Rylee on her beautiful blog and website.

Sun-drenched getaway

Last week Chase and I escaped to the Carolinas for a few days in the mountains, and the sunny air was so rejuvenating. Living in Nashville (a mecca of wonderful city adventures), I don’t realize how much I miss the mountains until I am at their base. It was long-dark when we reached the foothills, but I woke up in a sunny, wooded cottage—the new home of our friends the Jernigans in Black Mountain, North Carolina! Freshly brewed coffee, freshly laid eggs, and friends. What is better.

I spent my days hiking around with Caroline—one hike up and around a mountain with baby Eloise on my back; no small feat—while Chase romped around in nearby creeks fly-fishing for trout. I even followed him out to the river for one afternoon to find a mountain creek with a trail following alongside… perfect for a fly-fisherman whose companion wants to watch. I loved hiking ahead down the trail then looping back toward to river, perching on a rock and seeing chase wading down the river, rod in hand. And he caught his biggest trout to date—a 24 inch brown trout! We didn’t eat it for dinner, but I sure would have.

For the weekend, we traversed to Greenville, SC which is just my absolute favorite place. Twinkle-lit trees lining the downtown streets, ultimate walkability, the best food scene. I so selfishly pray I get to move back one day! Nonetheless, we joined my parents for a weekend of feasting and exploring and had such a good time. If you are ever in these parts, do yourself a simple kindness and visit American Grocery for a drink and cheese plate if not for a long, slow dinner with a small group of people you love. That’s what we did, and it was just dreamy (such a dream that I don’t have a picture to show for it!). We spent plenty of time just strolling and visited the Thomas Creek Brewery where we all slurped chocolate orange IPAs. Do you see the giant bucket of exploding yeast? It smelled amazing. Other Greenville highlights include spending the golden hour reuniting with a handful of great people on my friend Lauren’s porch, and finally meeting my Internet friend, Kathryn and her fiance Jivan! Just as genuine and kind as I imagined.

Happy weekend-ing friends. Let’s all hope for sun-drenched days wherever we find ourselves!

For Telling’s Sake pt. I :: Softening by Annie Parsons

A few weeks ago, I wrote a little post about the gift of casting our small days out into the blog world for heaven-knows-who to read. So many of you—some who I know, some who I don’t (not in-person, at least!)—reached out to reply in agreement, and it even more affirmed my inklings toward telling’s significance. We have never done a guest series here before, but this felt like the time and subject. More than anything we want this blog to be an honest place that cultivates friendship and beauty—something I also hope will be true of my home over the span of my life! This small series, For Telling’s Sake, is a net to catch the stories of people who inspire us and a place to hang the findings of how sharing life through blogs is a rich and meaningful experiencefor sharers and readers.

There is no better person to start this series than Annie Parsons, an Internet friend turned flesh-and-bones friend. A charming and brave soul, Annie is more honest, belly-laugh funny and adventurous than just about anyone.

I was 24-years old when he finally broke my heart. Generous with his words, he had always promised that he loved me – but his actions and attitudes belied those words, cracking me little by little until the terminating blow, a sledgehammer to an already rapidly crumbling innocence.

In the days and weeks that followed, I gasped for air. The grief of heartbreak is nothing short of an anvil on the chest, a weight that steals breath and paralyzes. The future I had imagined was no more, and while the world continued to spin, mine was over.

Of course, 6 years later I can say that my life did not, in fact, end in that moment. On the contrary, in many ways it began. He was not a horrible person; we were just young. But the grief I experienced during that time changed my life, for suffering can lead to softening – and my all-of-a-sudden tender heart found itself with a need to testify.

I began writing in earnest in 2007, and the internet seemed the obvious stage. At that point, I had no way of knowing the losses that were ahead of me – loss of home, loss of trust, loss of security, loss of control, and yes, more loss of love – but as it’s turned out, writing has become a lifeline in the midst of what’s been, at times, a raging storm. The practice of assigning language to emotion has led to connection – a familiarity with myself, and as I would soon find out, with others.

For me, vulnerability on the internet garnered an almost immediate reaction – some of horror (and sometimes for good reason, said the oversharer), but mostly of support and solidarity, murmured “me too”s that strengthened my feeble wings and made me feel less alone. Some of these voices have materialized in real life, flesh on bones, honest-to-goodness human beings who have become some of my closest friends and confidants.

These people, my same-selves, have nudged me toward honesty, reminding me that an artificial, sterile existence is uninteresting and ultimately, unhelpful. These people, my kindred spirits, have affirmed my belief that the heart matters, and that even in the midst of pain, there is beauty to be found.

If suffering has softened my heart, then writing has strengthened it. In my life, the two have gone hand-in-hand, rescuing me again and again from a life of status quo and driving me toward hope. I’m about to celebrate 6 years of candid emotional disclosure on the internet, and for all of the beauty that has come of it, I will always be grateful to the boy who broke my heart.

Read more from Annie Parsons on her blog, Hootenannie

Cassidy’s creamiest slow-cooker oats

A friend of mine, in jest, started a genius support group for people who love the morning, but aren’t morning people… a faux place to share best-practices for tricking yourself out of bed and into morning glory. Are you one of us? We absolutely love being awake in the wee hours of the morning, but we so struggle to peel ourselves out of our sheets to get there… one of life’s biggest conundrums if you ask me.

I would love to be the kind of person who wakes up naturally at 6 A.M.—happy, energized, ready to do sun salutations and read some poetry—but instead I am the kind of person who breaks the wine glasses in the drying rack while I try to make coffee, wondering why in the world I didn’t set everything up before I went to bed. What will life be like when I am responsible for getting little ones up and ready for school? I fear for them.

Another conundrum I face is that I am unusually particular about breakfast. Do you feel this way, too? I wake up hungry, and I want something warm. Which means I must cook.

Now, I love to cook. It is truly my favorite thing to do after sitting at my desk all day—the chopping, the sauteing, the roasting; I love it—but on weekday mornings I need my food and drink to be delicious and effortless. I love these words on this topic from Caitlin of Roost:

But I remind myself the morning is not a time for busying oneself or for anxious thoughts. Rather, it is a few moments of calm and quiet, lazily watching the dust settle as young sun beams creep across the floor, reading a few lines of a most beloved book, penning reflections in an old journal and of course, taking the time to enjoy a wholesome breakfast.

I am learning that if I organize everything at night before I go to bed, my morning is so much lovelier. Grind the coffee beans, measure the water, set the coffee pot to brew automatically (whoever invented this feature… I love you), and now set the steel-cut oats out to cook slowly while I sleep.

When I wake, a freshly brewed pot of coffee and the creamiest steamy oatmeal invite me to feast.

Meagan’s sister Cassidy shared this method with me a few weeks ago, and I tell you what. I love having a 17-year-old friend who inspires me in the kitchen. We chat weekly about what we’ve been cooking, recipes floating around the Internet, and what to make for dinner out of our pantry scraps. So, all the credit for this morning-revolution goes to Cassidy, to whom I am eternally grateful!

Recipe serves 2-3 people

1 cup steel-cut oats*
3 cups almond milk (or any milk of your preference)
2 hearty dashes of cinnamon
1 hearty splash of vanilla

Whisk oats and cinnamon together in the bowl of a slow-cooker. Cover the oats with your milk and stir in the vanilla. Set crock-pot to low and cook overnight (8-9 hours). Spoon into bowls with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and whatever toppings you fancy.

A few topping combinations we love…
From Holly:
Heat a handful of frozen wild blueberries (so tiny and sweet) and raspberries on the stove until they are warm and a bit saucy. Pour them over your oats, including every last drop of purpley sauce.

From Meagan:
Spoon a small dollop of coconut oil to melt on top of your oatmeal along with dried cherries and chocolate chips.

From Cassidy:
Top with a handful of pomegranate seeds, shredded coconut and almonds.

*Portion notes: I have a mini crock-pot meant for fondue (I didn’t buy this. It came with my normal sized crock-pot, but so fancy, right?), and I make a single serving of oatmeal in it with ½ cup of oats and 1 ½ cups almond milk. Alternatively, Meagan says she makes the full recipe and heats up single servings for herself throughout the week. Cassidy has a house full of oatmeal eaters so she makes the full batch, and they consume it in one morning.